SWAT men in Capitol alarm Gwen
About 20 Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) members entered the Capitol compound yesterday morning.
They stood at attention, had a group formation, counted off attendance, then left.
The sight of the uniformed elite police alarmed suspended Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, who said they could be getting ready to evict her.
Garcia, who has been holed up at the Capitol since December 19 when a six-month suspension order of the Office of the President was served, said it appears the police were trying to scare her, perhaps on orders of Acting Gov. Agnes Magapale
Magpale, in a separate interview, said no order was issued to send the SWAT to the Capitol.
“I did not. Still maximum tolerance. No SWAT team sent,” Magpale said in a text message to CDN.
Insp. Diosdado Malazarte, chief of SWAT teams from Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities, said they were there for a routine head count and formation with other PNP members assigned at the Capitol.
He said there were no other duties assigned to them much less an order to arrest the suspended governor.
After the formation, he and SWAT members left the Capitol grounds.
The PNP is preparing for the first day of the election period tomorrow and the start of a gun ban.
Under Comelec Resolution 9385, the use of security personnel and bodyguards by candidates as well as bearing, carrying and transporting firearms and deadly weapons is prohibited unless authorized in writing by the poll body starting Jan. 13.
Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr. the other day said he has scaled down the number of policemen guarding the Capitol from 200 on Dec. 19 to less than 50 at present.
He said he would have to reassess the deployment and recall some policemen, including police bodyguards of Garcia as part of the nationwide gun ban.
The last time Garcia noticed SWAT members near the Capitol at dawn of Dec. 31, she ordered all doors in the Capitol chained and locked, and had the windows boarded up with plywood to preempt a possible raid.
Yesterday, she was alarmed again at the sight of SWAT members outside her office.
“It’s very alarming and I heard that a certain congressman, Tomas Osmeña, was seen in the vicinity, again there were reports that there is an order from Vice Governor Magpale to bodily remove me from this office,” Garcia said.
(Congressman Osmeña was in Bohol yesterday attending the funeral of Rep. Erico Aumentado.)
Garcia said removing her from the Capitol against her will would not be accepted by the public.
“I think ilang gihimo karon, magpakita diha, siguro panghadlok, pangpsycho. (I think they are doing is to scare me or psych me out.) But if they would really forcibly remove me, this will be a spectacle that the Filipinos will not accept,”she said.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, an ally, said he checked and found out that the SWAT members were not from the Cebu city police. /Correspondents Carine M. Asutilla and Andy Pateña